Nazi Germany became a dictatorship under Adolf Hitler as this one person and party controlled an entire nation at their own will, creating a climate of fear and removing personal freedom.
After being appointed Chancellor in 1933, Hitler had gained greater power than the previous politicians - more than could have been guessed when he won the public vote. When President Hindenburg died in 1934 Hitler took the opportunity to merge together the roles of chancellor and president.
Germany was a democracy when Hitler first rose to power in January 1933 - they had fair elections and to laws were debated in the Reichstag before they were passed.
In March 1933 Hitler promised to hold a general election, which for him would have been an ideal opportunity to demonstrate to all opposing politicians where Germany’s true loyalties lay. In 1932 Hitler had been shown that there was a possible peak in the support for the Nazis during the election of November that year.
But one week before the election, on 27 February 1933, the German parliament (Reichstag) building burned down due to arson. Hitler jumped on the opportunity to portray the fire as part of a Communist effort to overthrow the state. Hitler knew he had to play on President Hindenburg’s communism fear in order to convince him to give emergency powers, as stated in the Weimar Constitution. He managed to persuade the President that communists were going to take over the nation with force.
Marianus van der Lubbe, a well-known communist, was caught near the Reichstag building shortly after the fire began. Nazi officials who arrested him claimed that he had confessed the fire was used to signal the beginning of the revolution to overthrow democracy. The authorities supposedly found matches on him and he reportedly smelt of petrol.
Hitler requested emergency powers from President Hindenburg to quash the ‘communist uprising’. Using the Weimar Constitution, Hindenburg passed the Law for the Protection of the People and the State. Popularly known as the Reichstag Fire Decree, the regulations suspended important provisions of the German constitution, especially those safeguarding individual rights and due process of law.
Hitler was convinced that an election, which was held in march, would be the last. But Hitler did not receive enough votes to ensure him a 50 per cent majority in the Reichstag - a total of 17.3 million.
On the 7 April 1933, the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service was passed. This law ensured that only people of “Aryan descent” could work as civil servants.
From the 2 May 1933, Hitler abolished trades unions and imprisoned their leaders. In return he gave workers a May Day holiday. Abolishing the trade unions allowed Hitler to destroy a group that might have opposed him. It also gave Hitler the opportunity to set up the German Labour Front, which gave him control over German workers.
In 14 July 1933, the Nazi Party also passed a law prohibiting the creation of any political party, and made the Nazi party the only legitimate German political party.
Hitler’s only problem from his perspective was on ensuring loyalty within the party ranks. As such, in June 1934 he launched ‘The Night of the Long Knives’ - the killing of about 400 SA members who threatened Hitler’s authority.
On the 7 April 1933, Nazi officials were put in charge of all local government in the provinces.
From the 2 May 1933, trades unions were wiped out along with their funds taken and leaders put in prison. In return the workers were given a May Day holiday.
As of 14 July 1933, a law was passed that made it illegal to form a new political party, and made the Nazi party the only legal German political party.
Germany then became a country of spies, with people employed in each street and building complex with the main purpose of keeping watch on others in their ‘area’ and reporting to the authorities if they felt something wasn’t right. No one wanted to offend the Nazi Police and the secret police lead by Heinrich Himmler because of their reputation. So for this reason Nazi Germany was a nation run by fear of the government.
Hitler’s only problem from his perspective was loyalty within the ranks of his own party. He overcame this in June 1934 with ‘The Night of the Long Knives’ - the wiping out of the SA’s leadership and others who had caused Hitler to become angry.
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